By Keith Idec
As you might imagine, Conor McGregor’s recollection of their sparring sessions are entirely different than Paulie Malignaggi’s accounts of those battles.
McGregor told a group of reporters Friday night that Malignaggi must’ve been “badly concussed,” based on what the Showtime analyst and former two-division champion has been telling the media since leaving McGregor’s training camp on terrible terms last week. The UFC superstar also said he dropped Malignaggi, as a photo leaked from one of their sparring sessions indicated.
Malignaggi maintains that McGregor shoved him to the canvas. Then, according to Malignaggi, McGregor leaked a photo of a fallen Malignaggi to make it look like McGregor knocked him down with a punch while preparing to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a 12-round, 154-pound boxing match August 26 in Las Vegas.
“It shows his character, in my opinion,” McGregor said following an open workout at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. “He was looking for an exit. The spars were not good for him. He took a lot of head trauma. Straight after it, we were worried. The sparring partners were actually telling us that when he was dropped back to the home that he was stumbling out of the car, after the 12-rounder.
“He was knocked down, he was flattened against the ropes. Multiple times the ropes kept him on his feet. We were worried about him. We thought the worst was about to happen. He was certainly badly concussed. And then he just got out and went running.”
The Irishman showman didn’t seem all that offended by Malignaggi calling him a dirtbag, a scumbag, a liar and a cheapskate who housed his sparring partners in a “crack house.” Their disagreements aside, McGregor admits that he still likes and respects Malignaggi.
“I don’t know,” McGregor said. “I don’t mind Paulie. He came in, he spoke a hell of a game previous, very disrespectful to the skill set, very disrespectful to the discipline. But no matter what a man says, if they show up and try to answer that and try their best, you’ve gotta give respect. And that’s what happened. He showed up, he tried his best. It didn’t go his way. He got his ass whupped, he got his pride dented and then he wanted a way out. What better way for a guy like him to exit under a load of questions and mysterious [circumstances]. You know what I mean? Under a lot of questions.”
The two-division UFC champion did dispute Malignaggi’s assessment of McGregor treating his sparring partners poorly.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” McGregor said. “I mean, we have multiple houses over here. Look, he can say what he wants. The guy is a mouthpiece. I don’t know what else to say. He came in, he got his ass whupped, he got his ego badly dented and that’s it. I mean, we sent the footage of the knockdown. We sent the footage over and I think they’re refusing to show it.
“So he was flattened. What can I say? He got his ass whupped. But I like the guy. He’s all right, though. He’s kind of like a loveable mouthpiece, but he’s all right. You know what I mean? But it did not go well for him, so … when I was hearing all the stuff he was saying, I was like it’s concussion talk. The man is badly, badly concussed. I mean, look at his face. He was busted up bad.”
McGregor also refuted Malignaggi’s claim that he leaked the photo of Malignaggi on the canvas.
“As far as the images that got leaked, let me clear this,” McGregor said. “I didn’t leak no images. The image I released, the only image I released, was the original one, where my hands were behind my back. And that was in response to the comment where he said – he went on a big quote and one of the comments in the quote was I will beat him with one hand tied behind my back. So I released one picture with me whupping his ass with both hands tied behind my back. No connecting-to-the-face shots, no him getting slapped around the ring, nothing like that.
“After the second one, he went on his world tour. Or after the first one, he went on his world tour and came back, he got his ass whupped and he got dropped. One of the pictures got leaked. I don’t know how it got leaked. But when I found out, I pulled it back. Obviously, the Internet’s the Internet. It blew up. And then he had such an ego about it and so much pride, and then he went running. But it worked out perfect for him because he didn’t wanna show up and go again. He couldn’t. It wasn’t in him, so that’s it. It worked out great for him. He got to exit under a cloud of questions and exactly what a mouth like him wants. So that’s that.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.